A Pierce County family has a long history of being accused of selling contraband cigarettes at its country store on Puyallup’s River Road.
This month, prosecutors went after the family — which owns and operates Indian Country Store at 908 River Road — a third time.
Prosecutors charged four people with various criminal counts, including unlawful possession or transportation of unstamped cigarettes.
The family’s head, Robert Comenout Sr., 80, has not been arraigned.
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His two sons, Robert Comenout Jr., 60, and Lee Comenout Sr., 56, and the younger Robert Comenout’s wife, Marlene Comenout, 60, have pleaded not guilty. .
This is the third time federal investigators have served search warrants at the business..
In July 2008, agents seized 37,685 cartons of contraband cigarettes that either had no tax stamp or an Idaho Indian Reservation stamp, not valid in Washington State.
Businesses must have a Washington tax stamp affixed to any cigarettes packages sold to non-tribal members.
In September 2012, federal agents again searched Indian Country Store and found 8,478 cartons of contraband cigarettes, according to charging papers.
When investigators returned this month, they discovered 3,852 cartons of cigarettes at the store and another 158 cartons at the drive-through, agents said.
The case was investigated by federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service and the Washington State Liquor & Control Board.